Monday, November 27, 2006

The Mountain Top Or The Sewer. It's Your Choice.

Even in your weakest moments, you can choose to be at the mountain top or in the sewer. You can patch the hole in your sails and sail to the horizon or lick your wounds and sulk. Attitude is everything. Many times, events in your life can cause you to sweat and withdraw into yourself. You become anxious and decrease your productivity. Your happy well dries up and you stop singing your melodious tunes. Your mind produces many chemicals that have detrimental effects on your body. As Zig Zigler said:

"It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude."

There are certain situations that my cause stress, such as when your loved ones are sick and you are worried about them. On the other hand you may be anxious because you anticipate you might not be selected for a position you applied for, though you're well qualified for it. At this time your mind may be working overtime thinking negatively which in turn derails your motivation and your ability to function . It is on these occasions that you need solutions that work.

Meditation can give you a mental holiday and make you detach yourself while you clear your thoughts. By tapping into the silence which is where peace dwells, you heal and become open to possibilities in your life. You can then use positive thinking such as the one prescribed by Norman Vincent Peale, to re-educate your mind and free yourself from the twin monsters of anxiety and depression which will sap your energy and make you less productive.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Your Inner Self Needs Maintenance Too

My normal day starts most of the time with a bang. The telephone will ring. My patient is in the labor and delivery ready to deliver her baby. Off I go, often at a dizzying speed to the hospital which luckily, is about 10 to 15 minutes away. Most times, I get to the hospital before they deliver their babies. Sometimes, after all the adrenaline rush, on arriving at the nurses' station, I will hear a baby's cry and the joyful screams of the mother and her family members. Many nights would be spent in the hospital taking care of patients. The day is not any better. I forgo lunch most days. In the evenings, after office hours, I still have patients to call, laboratory results to review and completion of my patients' charts. I get home between 9 and 10 pm if I am lucky.

I am not the only one going through this. I am lucky to have one job. Some people have two jobs and go home to take care of their children. We are like the factories or cars that work day and night and can break down if we don't keep their scheduled maintenance up to date. Are you taking time to maintain your body and take care of your mental health? Are you burning your candles at both ends? Do you identify with what I am going thorough?

My solution is to carve out some time for myself daily, before I go to sleep and early in the mornings. I give myself about an hour in the morning to meditate and exercise. The day should start with recharging your batteries. The peace of mind that comes with carving out a quiet time in the morning and evening is enough to cut down stress and adrenal fatigue that otherwise could make you sick. How much time you need for yourself is up to you.

I begin sometimes with spiritual reading and meditation for thirty minutes. I will rather do that than exercise if time does not permit. I then exercise for about ten to fifteen minutes before I shower and get ready for work. I repeat the process in the evening without the exercise. In the hustle and bustle of our daily life, we need interludes of silence to reconnect and ground us to what is important in our lives .

Sunday, November 12, 2006

How Do You Deal With The Changing Fortunes Of Life?

A few days ago, Mrs. George, a patient of mine, came for her annual gynecological examination. She was also visiting her dentist and eye doctor so her husband’s medical insurance could cover her visits as she did not know whether she would have medical insurance in six weeks.

Her husband is an obstetrician gynecologist who has just been told by his employer that he should start looking for a job as his position has been eliminated. Her husband’s organization was downsizing to save money. He was given six weeks to start looking for a job. He is well trained and hence may be able to find a job. However, he has kids in college and my patient is a homemaker. Needless to say, she was devastated and requested antidepressants to help her cope with her sudden loss.

Fortunes, like the weather, change all the time. It is the rule rather than the exception. Managing these life changes involve the ability to consider ourselves as part of nature. Nothing lasts forever. King Solomon also alluded to this when he said “for everything, there is a season.” Thus one way of beating anxiety related to change is to meditate on nature. In our quite moments we should think about how the nights change to days, the days change to nights, the minutes change to hours. The winter does not last forever; it always gives way to spring. It seems to me that change is inevitable.

It is by setting some time aside to contemplate on the wonders of nature with its constant changes that we appreciate that being part of nature, our circumstances will change too. The only unknown is when. If we keep this in mind, we can detach ourselves from our fortunes. This detachment will help us when our fortunes change. We will then have the confidence that the bitter winter will not last forever and look forward to the next season in our lives. This way, we become one with nature and beat anxiety.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Meditation For Health

If you've had children you will know that they have no cares in the world. All they want to do is to play, eat and sleep. These are children with parents who give them love and security. The children have absolute faith in their parents and know that they are available anytime they need them. Without that trust and faith, the children become stressed and go through the same changes adults go through when they are stressed. As adults, we have lost the innocent-child attitude to the world. We react to problems with stress instead of accepting them as part of life.

As Christ said, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."--Matt. 18:3. The prodigal son did not know what he had until he left home and squandered all his fortune. Fortunately for him he had the right attitude, became a child again and returned home when he became destitute and poor. His father welcomed him and was happy to have him back.

We are all like the prodigal son. Fortunately, if we have the presence of mind and return home, our Father will gladly receive us and reinstate us. To me this is the essence of meditation. We are able to fight stress when we have God in our sight. Once we loose sight of Him we are in an unknown territory which is scary and make us sick. Meditaion is like going back home to enjoy the childlike simplicity and innocence we had under our parents' roof. When we meditate, all our anxieties are banished and are replaced with tranquility, contentment and a feeling of wellbeing as we escape from the scary world.

Herbert Benson MD's book, relaxation response showed how meditation affected the practitioner's physiology by decreasing the use of oxygen, decreasing the amount of lactate (which induces anxiety attacks), heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and muscle tension. He called these relaxation effects "the relaxation response" . His second book, Beyond the relaxation response, stressed that the "faith factor" is very effective in eliciting the relaxation response that occurs during meditation. In the next blog, I will continue the discussion on meditation.